A blended design

Many of us think that blended learning is simply an integration of face-to-face learning and online learning. In fact, there are many definitions of blended learning. Blended learning can also represent the integration of activities that allows both collaboration with others and self-studies. It is also important to remember that only adding some online components to a course, does not necessarily mean one has blended the course.

Learning has to start with motivation and curiosity. Lippmann’s term “Community of inquiry” shows us three key elements that build a framework in which learning can happen. The elements – or dimensions – are social, cognitive and teaching presence.  ( see http://www.aupress.ca/books/120229/ebook/01_Vaughan_et_al_2013-Teaching_in_Blended_Learning_Environments.pdf ).

Our PBL-group had long discussions about what makes blended learning successful for the students. As always when we talk about learning, it is important how we organize the learning activities, from making it possible for the students to collaborate, preferably in small, secure groups, to think about what will motivate the learning process, and to plan the assessment activities.

The figure below is an example of how I am planning to create and realize a blended course in my university.

kopia design pbl blend


Pannan, L J, Legge, K A (2016). A blended learning model and a design model combine to support academics in pedagogical redesign of the curriculum. PDF available: http://2016conference.ascilite.org/wp-content/uploads/ascilite2016_pannan_full.p

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press. Chapter 1 “Conceptual framework”. PDF available:  http://www.aupress.ca/books/120229/ebook/01_Vaughan_et_al_2013-Teaching_in_Blended_Learning_Environments.pdf



Learning in communities

Learning in communities and collaborative learning is one of my favorite topics and it has been exiting discussing it in our pbl-groups in my ONL171-cours this last two weeks. Constructing new understanding together with others is one of the most exciting things to do and that is what drives me to develop my views on how teaching can be planned to enable this.

Let me present the work we did in our group, A Practical Guide to Harnessing the Potential of Learning Communities. I hope these points will inspire others to see the possibilities of thinking in new ways when planning and implementing education. Even the importance of collaboration between teachers and facilitators came up as a crucial theme for success.

This infographic, based on seven principles offered by Chickering and Gamson (1987), can be helpful for the online course facilitators to harness the potential of learning communities. Feel free to use it and share it.

Learning communities.PNG

Sharing and Openness in learning

In the ONL171 course that I now participate in, we work based on PBL (problem based learning), which is very interesting because I have long experience of PBL IRL that is, only on a small scale online. To be a part of a PBL-group as a student provide many insights. We are divided into groups of 7-8 students and receive new triggers every other week. In the last two weeks, we have been working on the topic ”Open learning – sharing and openness” and I have again been far outside my comfort zone.

It is both exciting and scary to note how little I know. Exciting because a new world is opening up to me and frightening considering I work as a university lecturer and thought I knew more than I actually do.

The course is as I have mentioned before an online course with no physical meetings and in my PBL-group, we have participants from the world’s various corners: Brisbane, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, South Africa and myself from Finland. It is very rewarding and inspiring to network, discuss and experiment in the same small group with so many people with different backgrounds. During the brainstorming session that we had when we got our trigger for this theme, the following issues became apparent to me.

• Do I have the right to open up my courses? What does my university say?
• What does the Finnish legislation say about open courses?
• At our university, we have locked doors to the physical classrooms. Is it possible to have digital OER if the physical doors are locked?
• MOOCS are free but if the certificate costs money, it will anyway be unequal?

I have not yet found an answer to all the issues, but I have learned a lot about copyright and Creative Common Licenses, about how I can think of regarding the pros and cons with openness and quite specific tips for how my university can work towards a more open learning climate.

Making knowledge available to all fits well into the set of values I have, and in my way of looking at sustainable development. It is a very beautiful and attractive idea to open up the lessons from the universities to the world to as many people as possible. It is about generosity, to share and make someone involved. Dr. David Wiley is Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, goes so far as to say that transparency is the only thing that one can call education. Without transparency, there is no education. Open is the only rule in education. Education is sharing, no sharing no education. Wiley says, ”We have to overcome the 2 year old in us who is screaming, ‘it’s mine, it’s mine’”.

Here we approach the fear to lose something important by sharing. Only when we dare abandon territorial thinking and realize that we can share without losing anything, we come closer to the core. It is interesting and encouraging that many of the universities that have been pioneers in opening up and offer MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) have been the big well-known universities.

Many questions have been raised over the past two weeks problematizing the openness and challenging the idea of formal exams vs knowledge. Will the university degrees attract young people in the future? Will the workplace continue to ask for formal permission or is it creative, innovative people who built their own cv using experience, MOOC’s, courses of various types, and so on, that other will envy. For me that means I have to think about whether my profession needs to be developed in order to respond to this societal development.

This theme of openness in education is a theme that I probably will return to in the future. Right now, I feel that we only had time to scratch the surface of this topic.


Alexanderson, tal, Wallenberg, illustration, Thorén, film och redigering (2012)Vad är Creativ Commons, en undervisningsfilm. 18.3.2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=Yd9dP3vlOyk

Paananen and Saari (2013) Mooc, massiiviset avoimet verkkokurssit, IPOPP 2013,
18.32017: http://www.sis.uta.fi/ipopp/ipopp2013/pasa/index.html

Wiley, David (2010) open education and the future, the TED talk.
18.3.2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb0syrgsH6M

Picture: Creative Commons av Jesper Wallerborg CC by ”En animation som illustrerar Creative Commons och lite till” 18.3.2017:https://www.webbstjarnan.se/blogg/en-animation-som-illustrerar-creative-commons-och-lite-till/

Will we ever meet?

IMG_6182-hblThis week in ONL171, we talked about how each one of us is acting in the digital, social world.  We learned about residents versus visitors and we could illustrate our own profiles in a chart.

The diagram raises many thoughts. Everything from how fast the development towards a digital reality today is, to how we should conduct ourselves to the market forces which govern us into a life filled with clicks and likes.

In a column in Hufvudstadsbladet on 22 February 2017, Fritjof Sahlström, professor of pedagogy at Åbo Akademi University, wrote about how children might live in parallel worlds in classrooms around the world today. Sahlström writes about Antti Paakkari who in his doctoral thesis sorts out how the children as consumers of social media are helping a huge machinery to keep running. He talks about the no-pay child labor of today and calls it “The capitalism in the classroom”. Sahlström compares children’s effort with the work children did in factories and in the forests more than 100 years ago, before the classrooms (elementary school) rescued them from child labor. In the same classrooms around the Western world is now a parallel activity to teaching and school work, an activity that can be classified as child labor, because the use of phones form a significant part that keep the industry concerning social media alive. If you want to read more you can check out Antti Paakkaris research (https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/en/persons/antti-paakkari(6f8b92b9-4475-4800-8412-ef37a55ceab7).html) .

Staggering thoughts, but I will leave them for now and make reflections on how my personal social life online looks compared to the diagrams relating my two daughters.

For a moment I was reflecting on which social media I really use and then  according to White´s format (2011) I put them down in the figure below. I had a suspicion that my children’s schedules probably would look very different, so I asked two of them to draw their digital profiles in the same figure.


When I talk to my daughters, 16 and 24 years, I realize for example that the younger one never uses FB, while the older one uses FB, but strictly professional in connection with studies and her job. E-mail is also completely professional for both. WhatsApp is used by both of them, but much more in a professional way than I do. The older one blogs privately but also occasionally updates the blog in her work. Both are using Instagram privately and Snapchat we all use in a private way. My daughters use the study platforms (Wilma and Web Oodi) as visitors, although they sometimes are expected to write things there.

All of this is perhaps no surprise to anyone, but it allowed me to reflect on the gap between my students (who often are at an age somewhere between my daughters) and me. Although we apparently use the same apps, our intentions differ. Suddenly the question rises about where we really have our meeting places? The University’s email and the Itslearning-platform are the same for both my students and me, but for us teachers in many cases familiar and useful. For the students, they will always be represented by an asymmetry of power (power imbalances with the teacher as supervisor and the student as a underdog). Such formations rarely attracts innovation and creativity. Students use the University’s platform in the first place because they have been told to do so and then get through the course, they do not use it to be motivated and encouraged in their learning processes. In fact, in the area of  “resident mode/institutional context” we have nothing else than the e-mail in common.

For our students FB and WhatsApp are often tools in the professional area, while many of us teachers use the same channels but privately. Not so many chances to meet here, is there? Sometimes we instead are preventing these meetings by moral discussions in the teams of teachers, where we still think that it might be morally reprehensible to be friends on FB with students. What a paradox!

What is then the natural common arena where it would be possible for teachers and students to meet professionally in creative contexts? Are we waiting for WhatsApp to develop, or is it something very new that we do not yet know? The closed and therefore exclusive, strictly hierarchical platforms of the universities might not be so useful after all.  Especially, if the development goes against transparency regarding research and innovation in the academic world.

White, David & Le Cornu, Alison. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3171/304

Sahlström, Fritjof. (2017) Barnarbetets återkomst. Hufvudstadsbladet 22.2.2017.

Excessive use of technology

I thought, even a few days ago, that my biggest challenge in the ONL Course I am involved in, would be the English language. But I now realize that it is technology! It has made me feel uncertain and stressful. This makes me want to reflect on some issues.

We live in a time where many of us have had an significant overdose of technology. Some of us have got stress related symptoms as difficulty in focusing and memory problems as a result. We have built a world, our world, on screens with apps that will help us to control our daily lives with everything from personal economy to social relations. We create an impression of efficiency, control and enlightenment so that fear will keep its distance to us. For deep down, many of us struggle with the nagging question; What if we really live in a dangerous time?

The physical books and journals are becoming more rare. On social media we surround ourselves with people who think like us and we erase dissidents from our contact lists. We choose which news to take part of. And we do not actually choose ourselves, Google chooses for us. From the pages we visit and the searches we do, Google presents the information we need and protects us from the rest. We live in our bubble of like-thinkers. In a webinar held by Sara Mörtsell (Education Manager on Wikimedia in Sweden) she talked about how information is personalized by algorithmic sorting and how that leads to that each filter bubble maintains its own reality. There are some interesting Ted talks to see with Eli Pariser if you want to learn more.

So now my question will be:

Could we instead focus on the fear and dare to discuss with those who we think have bad arguments? What would happened if we really tried to understand those who vote differently than we do, those who stand for values that we do not like and those who make us feel insecure? Or is it just easier to stay in the cozy bubble which we build with the help from Google?

To talk and write in English…

…will be the biggest challenge for me!

I´m about to participate in an online course (ONL171) where I´m expected to write a blog and participate in online discussions in English. I love to talk and I love to write … but in Swedish, my native language. How this will end I do not know, but I challenge myself (and anyone else who will listen to me) and I will do my very best and give all I have to get over this and take part in the course.

Now, when this is said, in the future I will continue to write about things that the course is really about: online learning and pedagogical development!

So stay tuned!